Compassionate Self Awareness

With the passing of Carrie Fisher and George Michael to round out the turbulent 2016, we can all agree that it has been a year full of sadness. The phrase “Fuck 2016” and “blame it on 2016” has whispered past my own lips as well as the corridors of my school. I used chalk my personal bad luck and sadness to the way the cards have been dealt for me this year. However, with 2017 looming overhead, I have been looking back on all the ups and downs of the last year. In retrospective, I find myself being extremely hard on 2016 Rebecca. Taking an outsider’s perspective, certainly my life could seem amazing. I have friends, a great education, strong work ethic, caring family. Yet, I can only focus on the negatives. Why is that?

Upon inner reflection, I can only say my tendency to view the negativity in my life is self-preservation. I have had countless dismal relationships, both romantically and in friendship; along with disappointments in my work. In all of these situations, where some other girl got the guy I liked, or I missed what I assumed to be the ‘opportunity of a life time’, I blamed myself. My professor told me that I need to low my bar, I have too high of standards for me and anyone else to reach. I can’t say I completely disagree with her perception. Afraid of failure, I 100% am self-critical, 95% of the time. The other 5%, I am hopeful my luck will change. But hope doesn’t do much to soothe my anxious soul or prevent endless late nights of self-comparison’s to everyone I know. I just naturally assume that I am the reason why my life sucks, therefore, I need to always try 1% harder, be 10% better, 20% faster, 50% stronger…

…Perhaps an over exaggeration, but it’s definitely the honest truth about how I feel emotionally. So how do I change this?

Certainly, my personal choices do factor into how things turn out. I have started making more positive changes, to counteract the negative, like going to the gym and starting muay thai. Learning how to apply makeup (but also working on accepting my facial features without any makeup), purging my closet of items which I don’t like anymore, eating healthier (but allowing myself dietary freedom for things I enjoy) are other small alterations which help to sort out a few of the issues I have with my overall appearance. Working on those small solutions have made me feel confident walking down the hall, whether I’m dressed and made up to the nines, or in my comfiest trackpants without a stitch of makeup on my face. But I still have the tendency to constantly chastise myself, and I am growing more and more frustrated because I don’t have the perfect solution which will throw me back into the realm of happiness.

My therapist suggested that I make a lot of assumptions about the way people perceive me, and she encourages me to create a thought-map, to connect the dots so to speak, from the emotion I’m feeling (i.e. sad, depressed, stressed etc.) to the situation and thoughts which started it. I have found that my assumptions are conjured from the worries in my mind more than on the actual facts of the situation. So my resolution for 2017 is to tackle compassionate self-awareness. Certainly not an easy task. But rather than comparing myself to Mr. Davison (a hypothetical student) who got all A+’s this semester, works out, is pursuing a girl who isn’t me, and appears to have his life together… I perhaps should compare my internal self-image, to me, the real me. I may not have got all A+’s, but I was pretty damn close. I may feel underappreciate in a variety of ways, but maybe whatever did not work out was the consequence of many other factors, not just me. I may feel sad during this season of engagements, relationships and babies while I’m all by my lonesome, but hey, I don’t have to share Netflix do I? So what if I have high standards for the people that I am friends with, or the work ethic that I have. I know that I am a very hard worker and I would rather surround myself with 2 positive friends than 20+ negative ones. Patience and kindness are things I need to work on for myself, and I just have to hold fast that my perseverance will be rewarded, in due time.

So here’s to 2017, may it bring happiness to all of you who are reading, as well as me, in ways we may never have dreamed of, but will forever appreciate.

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